GLOBAL ECONOMY

UN expert in Saudi denied access to imprisoned activists

A United Nations rights expert visiting Saudi Arabia as part of an unprecedented invitation by the government to assess the country's legislation and actions in fighting terrorism says he was not given access to imprisoned bloggers and activists.

Special Rapporteur Ben Emmerson says he was, however, given rare access to top officials overseeing the country's handling of sensitive terrorism cases, including those of human rights defenders serving sentences under sweeping security legislation.

Speaking with The Associated Press on Thursday from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Emmerson says "the picture is extremely mixed."

He says the Saudi government has gone to incredible lengths to humanely rehabilitate Saudis convicted in terrorism cases, while at the same time it has prosecuted and jailed citizens exercising their right to free speech under broadly worded anti-terrorism legislation.